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Cook v. John H. Mathis Co.

Decided: October 15, 1948.

HARRY P. COOK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN H. MATHIS CO. AND THE INDUSTRIAL UNION OF MARINE AND SHIPBUILDING WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL NO. 56, DEFENDANTS



On bill, &c. On final hearing.

Berry, J.s.c.

Berry

This controversy concerns the plaintiff's right to work at his chosen trade, which is a property right (Lo Bianco v. Cushing , 117 N.J. Eq. 593, affirmed 119 N.J. Eq. 377), and the protection of that property right from unlawful interference by the defendants.

The original bill in this cause was filed on April 6, 1944; the first amended bill on April 18, 1944; and a second amended bill on May 24, 1944. The cause came to a final hearing before the late Vice-Chancellor Woodruff on February 26 and 27, 1945, but remained undecided at his death. After September 15, 1948, the effective date of the Judicial Article of the 1947 Constitution, the case was assigned to me for decision.

The prayers of the second amended bill of complaint, so far as now pertinent, are as follows:

"2. That John H. Mathis Co., its agents, servants, and employees, and the agents, servants and employees of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, Local No. 56, may be enjoined from applying the contract and more particularly Article 2, Section c of said contract between the said John H. Mathis Co. and the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, Local No. 56, to suspend the complainant from his employment as a Marine Electrician (2nd class).

"3. That the said John H. Mathis Co., its agents, servants or employees be enjoined from recording on the employment record of the complainant, Harry P. Cook, 'Suspension for the non-payment of Union dues'; that I.U.M.S.W. of A., Local No. 56, be enjoined from including the name of Harry P. Cook on its membership rolls; that I.U.M.S.W. of A., Local No. 56, be enjoined from placing the name of Harry P. Cook on the delinquent dues list of its membership to the John H. Mathis Co."

This controversy arises out of the following facts and circumstances as disclosed by the record, and as I find them:

The plaintiff is a marine electrician and was employed as such by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation at Camden, New Jersey, on November 29, 1941 to August 10, 1942. At the time of his employment he was handed a printed copy

of an agreement between the New York Shipbuilding Corporation and the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, Local No. 1, effective June 23, 1941. Attached to the inside of the cover of that copy was a printed notice which reads as follows:

"NOTICE TO NEW EMPLOYEES

"Your attention is called to the fact that the New York Shipbuilding Corporation has a labor agreement with the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, Local No. 1.

"You are advised that your becoming a member of this Union will not interfere in any way with your employment nor retard your advancement.

"The Management requests that you examine the copy of the Agreement handed to you herewith, particularly Article 2, which requires you, as a condition of your employment, to become a member of the Union within three weeks.

"For further information you are referred to the Union Shop steward in your department or to the Union Office at 2332 Broadway, Camden, N.J."

Pursuant to this notice and the terms of the written agreement, he applied for and was duly admitted to membership in Local No. 1 of that union, and remained a member thereof until he voluntarily gave up his employment with the New York Shipbuilding Corporation on August 10, 1942, when he also resigned from the union, expecting to go to Virginia on construction work of a different character. He spent about six weeks on that job in Virginia, for which he was not paid, and he then decided to return to his trade as a marine electrician. On December 4, 1942, he applied for a position as marine electrician at the plant of the defendant John H. Mathis Co. in Camden, and began work there on December 7, 1942. When he applied for the position he asked if it was necessary for him to be a member of a union in order to obtain employment and was advised by a representative of the company that it was not; that the company's business was ...


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